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Is There an Expiration Date on Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest feats you confront daily. Someone wrongs you and your first inclination is to nurse your hurt and condemn the hurter. That’s why the saying goes, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

Yet, since it’s so hard for us to forgive, we often assume that God’s mercy has an expiration date on it also. We wonder at what sin is He is going to throw up his hands and say, “This is the last straw!”

However, without God’s forgiveness and mercy, we are stuck. We are mired in a life full of mistakes, bitterness, and brokenness. We can’t forgive others because we are without mercy ourselves. We lack the courage to sin no more because we have no safety net, no reason, no purpose. God is not there to break our fall.

Max Lucado said it this way:

If you haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness, you are doomed to fear. Nothing can deliver you from the gnawing realization that you have disregarded your Maker and disobeyed his instruction. No pill, pep talk, psychiatrist, or possession can set the sinner’s heart at ease. You may deaden the fear, but you can’t remove it. Only God’s grace can. 

I’ve watched many a Christian, agnostic, and atheist try to soften this fear with all sorts of distractions. From long hours at work to long hours at the bar, people desperately try to avoid or quiet the loneliness and pain of a world without their maker’s mercy. Regardless of how hard and long they work, everything else will always be a poor substitute to the mercy and peace that only God can bring.

That’s why it’s so important to take that step and say that prayer that accepts God’s forgiveness and welcomes Him into your heart and life. To finally say to God, “I’m so sorry that I have turned away from you and your grace. Please forgive me. I trust you.” Only then can you love boldly, live robustly, and forgive courageously. Only then can you live with purpose.

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